Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Day 1: A Bad Beginning

NaNoWriMo is off to a bad start. I only got 1 084 words written last night. I was still tired from Halloween, and had to get up early this morning to vote, and didn't want to be taking my stats test this afternoon while half asleep, and I could probably think up a plenty more excuses if necessary.
Because wc (word count utility on Linux) counts HTML tags as words, I've written it in plaintext. Traditional formatting conventions are used: _underscored text_, /italic text/, *bold text*.
I've hidden spoilers so you point that them (hover) to get them to display. When not pointed at, they're grey on grey. For some reason .spoiler:hover didn't work, so I had to use div:hover. If anyone knows how to get .spoiler:hover (or something in the same spirit) to work, please let me know.
Anyway, I don't know what's going on in my story. Maybe eventually a plot, a world, and even a title, will emerge. At any rate, here's the lousy text thus far:
Kim set her head one the papers in front of her and sighed. She'd been working on the same perplexing problem for hours, and still couldn't quite describe just what was wrong with the formulation. Somewhere when moving from the first step to the third, part of the initial conditions seemed to disappear, but where it went or why, she wasn't sure. But just as she picked the quill up again to carefully go through the steps once more, she heard a knocking outside the door.
She set aside the problem to check who was at the door, but stopped just short of opening it. 'There's a raging snowstorm outside. No one's going to be visiting in this weather. Few do even when the weather is clear'. Realising that if she opened the door she'd be greeted with nothing but wind and snow, she headed back to her desk to resume work. Most likely it had just been a branch blown against the cottage.
As she sat back down, however, she heard the knocking again. Either someone was out there or the wind was throwing walnuts at her door in sets of three. And walnuts didn't grow in this area. Someone was knocking, and they'd be none-too-pleased if she left them out in the storm.
Bracing herself to prevent the wind from blowing the door wide open and filling her house with snow, Kim opened the door a crack and peered out into the cold night.
Three walnuts hit her in the face.
Quickly slamming the door, Kim realised her mistake: normal people don't go out in storms, but snow-loving, walnut-throwing demons /do/. Kim had never heard of walnut-throwing demons, but demons came in many varieties, and it was usually safe to assume that whatever type you could think of, at least one of that sort existed somewhere. The question is why one would be throwing walnuts at /her/ door. And more importantly, how should one get rid of it.
The answer to that last question was obvious: you don't. If a demon wants to throw walnuts at your home, you either waited for it to get bored and stop, or you found a new home. Given the weather--and the simple fact that a few walnuts weren't going to make her current quarters unlivable--Kim decided it wasn't necessary to leave right away. On the other hand, the Demon may have a very limited supply of walnuts, and upon running out could very well take to throwing boulders. One can never be too careful around demons.
No matter. It was early November already, and Kim was late in moving from her summerhouse to the small hut she had in the valley. If the storm let up in the morning, she could leave then and start the three-week trek before a /real/ Winter storm could hit.
Her mind made up, Kim started going through her stuff to collect all she'd be needing during the Winter. Books, papers, notes, and scrolls went into her small trunk. She didn't need to bring clothes; she had a full wardrobe at her other house. She simple stuffed a change of clothes, along with a few extra pairs of socks, into her small pack and then headed off to bed, finally falling asleep to the sound of walnuts hitter her door at irregular intervals.

The nest morning she awoke quite early. The storm had calmed down--storms had a habit if occurring mostly in the late afternoon and at night--and it appeared a good day to start her journey.
Listening, Kim heard no sign that the demon was still outside, but even if it was gone, it had done her a favour by reminder her that it was time to leave. She had been so engrossed in her work lately that she'd put off the move far longer than usual.
After packing a sufficient amount of food, she loaded the trunk into the small cart out back, and then went to get her horse and cat from the stable.
Oliver, her cat, had many times been invited inside the house, but he insisted on staying with the horse at all times, so Kim had simply given up and let him sleep in the stable. It was a very nice stable; very well insulated and as cozy as a stable could be expected to be. But still, it wasn't a place for a horse or cat as the cottage in the valley, where Quentin (the horse) could wander outdoors without freezing.
With Oliver riding on the cart and Kim walking beside, they began their journey, passing under the natural rock archway over the path leading away from the house, and heading down the mountain. As they set off, Kim glanced about for demonlike footprints, but didn't spot any. She didn't dwell on it. Demons are light on their feet. The small ones were anyway.

Kim didn't come across any other travelers that day. Few people lived in the area, and most who did generally stayed indoors except for hunting trips.
That evening, they found shelter in a small inset in the mountain side. Not really a cave, as there was no ceiling, but it would function to block the wind and a fair bit of snow should a storm brew during the night. Anyway, the weather seemed calm. The gods had gotten their anger out of their system and were happy to give the mountain residents more pleasant conditions for the time being.

Tim headed out to the henhouse to lock up the chickens. Or, more accurately, Tim headed out to the henhouse on the excuse that he needed to lock up the chickens. His actual reason for going out there was simply to avoid the ruckus going on in the house. Tim's brother wanted to join the dragontamer's guild and his father was dead-set against it, leading to yet another unwinnable argument. Tim had seen it hundreds of times before: Sid and his father would argue for hours, and in the end, Sid would have no choice but to accept the decision of their father, though not without a lot of grumbling.
Tim herded the hens into their hutch, pleasantly chatting with them and dawdling as much as possible before finally heading back indoors.
The argument seemed to have reached its end. Sid was nowhere in site--presumably sulking back in the room he shared with Tim--and Tim's father was sitting in his chair reading a book, with a deep scowl on his face.

Spoilers and notes

Put your mouse over the grey area to see the test if you have a browser that's cool with CSS and such.
I'm not really sure if Kim is a paranoid nutcase or if demons are real. Kim is actually named after Kimbalina, but that's pretty much when the resemblance ends. As far as I know, the real Kimbalina is not a paranoid schizophrenic. Oliver I didn't have to think up a name for. I don't know why, but I was thinking of him as Oliver immediately.
The problem Kim's working on at the beginning stems from Dr. Lycan's rejection of Modus Ponens (see Lycan's 1993 paper MPP RIP). I haven't read Lycan's paper or the response (MPP RIP RIP by I don't know who), but I'm pretty sure I can dismiss Lycan's argument if I simply spend a few minutes thinking about it hard enough. It's interesting stuff at any rate.

There were quite a few typos, but only two misspellings in the entire text. Of course, MS Word thinks there are many more, but it doesn't recognise English. Also, when correcting the typos I added one word, bringing the total word count up to 1 085.


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